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Satan, his Demons, and the Gnostics

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Question #1:  Hello Sir! Someone who interprets scriptures according to Judaic Christian beliefs said that Satan is a man and quotes Isaiah 14:16 to prove it. He tells us that to deny this is to ignore scriptures and go with the Polytheistic pagan concept that Heavenly angels fall. He even stated that some Christians are referred to as angels that left their first estate. He wrote:

"Christians also can be termed as Angels...terms of angels going to hell, or leaving their first estate, are and is people, discerned out of monotheism precept foundation. Angels of heaven cannot fall or leave their first estate. which is to rebel. Only man can rebel....And only angels Saved men " Christians, can leave their first estate, and be termed angels leaving their first estate. Men fall from heaven,, Isaiah 14:16 People of God can be termed angels, and leave their first estate, and then be Judged. which Judgment day is reserved, for all mankind. Remember this evil, that is Judged, Came with one man *(Adam), and power defeated for all time by one man(Jesus)on the cross, where Satan is cast out, and accuser cast down, same defeat."

He further wrote:

"Satan.. termed the " Spirit of disobedience" in Scriptures. Appears first to Eve symbolized as a Snake...But in reality, this is parable, and the snake was Eves own " Common temptation". Unless 1 Corinthians 10:13, is untruth, and there is another Kind of temptation which is not common. Not one person has snakes talking too them... This is a Parable, meant to deceive and what success it has. Adam and eve, were the first humans or man, to " Disobey God".. which is what Satan is... " Spirit of disobedience". To God Satan Interprets as " Accuser".. Because of mans " disobedience", is always in Gods ear and our sin Condemns us. When Jesus then Died for our sins, His blood covered our disobedience in Gods ear, and Satan was cast down, and Cast out...Lucifer a Man...Isaiah 14:16. fell from heaven in these last days, who is a Christians, and King of Babylon. Man who is Satan; its mans evil disobedience which is Satan, which is disobedience to God... first Came with Eve and Adam,, and continues to this day, people being evil with disobedience, yet " where is thy sting o Death".. Satan"s power is defeated in heaven, and cast down to earth by Jesus, by God, and by Michael..And Satan is defeated for all time by "One man". That be Jesus. It's all there in the word. One God, One salvation, One Church, One truth, Gods truth. " the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned".. I can say Christians are not perfect or without Sin, yet Christians are sinless... That cannot be true men will say its contradictory; ...But it is true...!!!! "God creates all things Good and evil".. Isaiah 45:7. The Spirit of Deep sleep is surely poured out upon all flesh. This is not about snakes and demi Gods, but about Mans obedience to Gods will. Eve and Adam, were tempted to be disobedient to Gods will,,, So was Lucifer tempted by power and wealth; and as a Christian, he left his first estate, and fell from heaven. A Little meat of Prophesy ... Isaiah 14, was well known by all Jews and Jesus, Yet not interpreted by Jesus or Disciples, Why? ..All prophesies are Known, and or revealed to Jesus and interpreted by Jesus all things to be known, Except... Except, those things "Sealed by God" to be revealed in the end times. Like Daniels vision's of end times "Sealed"....All prophesies not interpreted by Jesus or disciples is and are Sealed Last day Prophesies for you and me to discern as to truth today, in times of " fig tree".. Israels return....Isaiah 14. Not interpreted By Jesus and disciples, yet interpreted By 11th-12th Century monks, cannot be truth revealed of end time Sealed prophesies. Lest 11th-12th centuries were last days unsealing prophesies. But it wasn't the last days in Middle ages. To repeat the answer of Adam and Eve's Satan, and Lucifer's and Satan, which is end times Lucifer (Anti Christ). Satan is not man, but the disobedience of man (Spirit)...Disobedience to God, existed from Adam and Eve, even unto Lucifer falling from heaven...Lucifer the man Got to heaven, after Jesus covered his sins with Jesus blood. As all Christians of Faith in Jesus, have the Kingdom of heaven within...Lucifer is a man, lest scriptures mislead. God is not the author of confusion. I am sorry, if some cannot comprehend the Jewish, Judaic concepts of Satan of some 3000 years confirmed origin. It's monotheism not Polytheism.. Jesus calling Peter Satan, is a perfect example..." get thee behind me Satan"..the only time anyone is called Satan. And done by Jesus!!!!..And quantifies his statement by saying to Peter : "thou savorest the things of man, above the things of God". Again I seek not to offend or indoctrinate: but offer the perception of Jewish concepts of Gods words, which Jesus did believe, and confirm there truths. If Christians believe that the 200-300 Christians concepts are sure truths, then one should read Isaiah 29..!!!! Surely turning things Upside down.."

I would like to read your correct view on this and how he is incorrect. Also, is what he's teaching considered another Gospel and heresy?

God Bless!

Response #1:  

Good to hear from you. If Satan were a human being, it would be impossible for him to have been in the garden of Eden tempting Eve, then thousands of years later possessing Judas, then at the end of history inciting Gog and Magog to rebel from the Messiah. If Satan were a human being, how would he enter human beings? If he were not a fallen angel, then why has the lake of fire been prepared for him "and his angels"? And if angels did not fall by following Satan, then why are they going to be cast into the lake of fire? The comments you report from this fellow are hardly worth pursuing. They are the sort of thing that people write when they follow "the imaginations of their own hearts". The problem with attempting to refute them in detail, point by point, is that such an activity is a bit like crawling into a rabbit-burrow: it's dark, hazardous, there's no way out and no real point to the exercise, and, by the time you get down in there, the rabbits are long gone. From perusing these comments, this person seems to know that scripture exists, but he seems perfectly content to substitute his own authority and opinions whenever and wherever he pleases. It is hard to have any sort of meaningful discussion with people who don't accept the ultimate authority of the Bible, because even when you "prove something" to them, they easily reject it inasmuch as their opinions carry more weight than scripture (in their own minds). If we were to apply the same symbolic latitude evident here, we could reinterpret any doctrine or passage we wanted, and make it mean whatever we pleased. Calling these misinterpretations "Jewish concepts" is just a smoke screen. All writers of scripture were Jewish therefore all biblical literature is Jewish; that doesn't mean that it is not open to common sense hermeneutic principles. Saying "it's Judaic" is not an argument. The Bible is very clear when it is being symbolic or using allegory. It is a long-standing mistaken approach common to many groups, Jewish, Christian, pagan, etc., to introduce symbolism and allegory where they are not called for and not appropriate. One has to have evidence from context to do so legitimately (as in Daniel chapter nine where the Bible itself calls attention to the symbolism of the dream). That contextual proof is singularly lacking here. I shall address a few of the more egregious points in brief. Please feel free to write back for specifics on these or anything else.

Angels do, of course, exist (for a detailed treatment, please see Basics 2A: Angelology). They are not human beings.

Christians cannot "leave their first estate": Jude 1:6 is speaking of angels as it says.

The serpent in Genesis 3 is an actual snake, possessed by Satan (which is why he is called "the old serpent" at Rev.12:9; 20:2); there were no other human beings around at that point besides Adam and Eve!

God does not "create evil". The word in Isaiah 45:7 is the Hebrew adjective ra', the generic word for anything bad. It can mean evil, or just bad, or, as here, "something bad", namely "disaster" . . . as the context shows.

Calling Peter "Satan" makes perfect sense since Peter was essentially furthering the devil's desires by attempting to dissuade Jesus from going to the cross. To me, that just shows that the devil's influence is great and supernatural -- so that he couldn't be a mere human being.

As to Isaiah 14:6, your correspondent is demonstrating his ignorance of the very thing he bandies about: one has to understand the canons of Hebrew prophetic literature to interpret it correctly. In Hebrew prophecy and poetry, the identification of two very close events or like-minded individuals is very common (it's called "Prophetic Foreshortening", see the link). Isaiah 14 is primarily about Satan and his fall, using the king of Babylon as a type for the devil; the "man" referred to later in the chapter (from v.14 to v.23) is antichrist, the devil's son. This is a very appropriate comparison since antichrist will indeed be the ruler of eschatological Babylon. As is often the case in Old Testament prophecy, a near term individual/situation is explained by comparison to its eschatological antitype (the most common example of this is "the Day of the Lord Paradigm", see the link).

Put succinctly, the correct interpretation of Old Testament prophecy is not for beginners; conversely, it is a very fertile ground for those whose only interest is building up a personal system of theology based only on their own imagination with the purpose of leading others astray.

Finally, this person's attack on alleged Christian "polytheism", while ridiculous, seems to me, when taken in context with his statements about monotheism, to reveal his true agenda lurking below the surface. Ask this person if he believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ.

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
2nd Peter 3:1-3 NIV

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hi Doc!

In Ezekiel 28:15 it states that Satan was perfect: "Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee."

I don't understand how a "perfect" being can fall into imperfection or sin? Also, I thought that only God was perfect? Thanks in advance!

Response #2: 

By "perfect" in creature terms its means "sinless". The angels were created perfect/sinless and only some of them became imperfect later (when they fell in with the devil and his rebellion). "Nobody is perfect" applies to all human beings, except for our Lord who was perfect in every way. Adam and Eve were likewise created perfect, but fell into sin, and they left that legacy of sinfulness to all of their progeny by virtue of the passing down of the sin nature genetically (except for the unique One, our Lord Jesus, who was miraculously virgin-born). Blessedly, for human beings there is a way through faith in Jesus Christ to escape the consequences of our natural imperfection.

How it could happen for Satan to become imperfect is the same in principle as how it could happen for Adam and Eve: the exercise (or really abuse) of free will. The only real difference in this exercise or abuse of free-will is that Satan's rebellion occurred in total cognizance and without deception, while Eve was completely deceived, and Adam, though he realized what he was doing was wrong, sinned under duress (the thought of losing Eve) and clearly didn't have anywhere near the knowledge of God that the devil did.

We human beings and the angels uniquely of all God's creatures have free will which we are indeed completely free to exercise in faith response to God . . . or not. The angels needed only to "keep the faith" to remain perfect; Satan and his followers rebelled instead. We human beings need to respond through faith to God's solution, Jesus Christ, to be delivered from our sinless imperfection; sadly, most are unwilling to do so.

It really is mind-boggling to conceive of a perfect creature in God's presence, especially one who was uniquely honored the way the devil was, wanting to or being willing to rebel against the Sovereign of the universe. That he could and did is a sobering lesson to us all about the great danger and the near limitless potential of the free will we have been given. With the same mouth we can bless or curse; and it is up to us whether our lives will be a blessing or a cursing, and whether or not they will result in great reward or eternal damnation -- all through the exercise of choice, responding to God in Jesus Christ through the non-meritorious free-will faith we received along with the gift of our life. It makes one realize what a tremendous opportunity we have here in life, and just how pointless 99.99% of everything else that goes on here on this planet really is . . . apart from seeking and serving our Master and His truth.

In the One who died that we might live in Him and with Him forever by grace through faith, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Doc!

What does it mean when it says that the devil told God that he was walking to and fro throughout the earth? is this literal? or is this metaphorical? thanks in advance!

Response #3:   

The Hebrew verb is shut, and it means "to go/roam/rove quickly/eagerly". In other words, it does not really say or imply "walking" on one's feet. I would suppose the devil flies from place to place. So, yes, that understood, I would take this literally in the sense of meaning that Satan spends considerable time surveying his temporary realm (often looking for important targets of opportunity no doubt):

Stay sober, stay awake! Your adversary the devil roams about like a roaring lion searching for someone to devour.
1st Peter 5:8

In the One in whom we are completely safe, our dear Lord Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #4: 

Hi Doc!

A KJVO (King James Version Only-ist) advocate told me that the King James Bible says "walking" in Job, and that there's a big difference between "walking" and "flying". Why does the KJV say walking? thanks in advance!

Response #4:  

The confusion is over which verb we are talking about in Job 1:7. I was talking about the first verb used of Satan which the KJV translates "going to and fro". Clearly, this does not require ambulating by foot. That verb, shut, is used for other types of locomotion such as, e.g., swimming (Isaiah 25:11) or rowing (Jonah 1:13). So the type of locomotion is determined by the context. I would suppose that the "going to and fro" (shut) means in this case a very rapid deployment from one geographic area to another (by flying, as angels are wont to do), and that the "walking", KJV's translation for the second verb, may mean more intensive scouting of specific areas.

However, even this second verb is used of general locomotion (this is the hithpael stem of the verb halak). For example, it can be used of the flight of arrows, the coursing of lightning through the sky (Ps.77:17), and also of the flow of water (Ps.58:7). Now we wouldn't be correct to say that God's arrows "walked" or that His lighting "walked" or that the wicked vanish like water "walks", would we? These verbs are general and the specific type of locomotion depends upon the context of who and what is moving. Angels fly. The devil doesn't walk to heaven (or from point A to point B on earth for that matter either). So "roaming" and "going to and fro" are fine translations, but they certainly do not rule out the devil's flying from place to place.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hi Robert,

I have contacted you off and on over the years when I have run into a question or problem of Christianity and/or spirituality which has come up in my walk. You have been very helpful and I am once again calling on your insight or thoughts concerning an issue that has pre-occupied me for a while. It has to do with the following part of the Lord's prayer: "your will be done, on earth as in heaven". In Job (as an example), God engages Satan in a conversation. This would mean that he is in the presence of God, who is in heaven. That places Satan there as well. Since Satan is the personification of disobedience, how can he possibly be in heaven in God's presence? I know he is still subject to the will of God, and perhaps I am making too big a deal out of this, but all indications are that he got booted out of heaven with the rebellion and can't be there. Any thoughts or ideas you can give me would be very much appreciated. Thanks

Response #5: 

Good to hear from you. In Revelation chapter 12 we read:

(7) And war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought with the dragon and the dragon and his angels fought [back], (8) but they did not prevail against him, and they could no longer find any place [of refuge] in heaven. (9) And [so] the great dragon, the ancient serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, was thrown down; even he who deceives the entire world was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (10) And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, "Now our God's deliverance and might and kingdom have come, even the power of His Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, the one who accuses them day and night in front of our God, has been thrown down. (11) But these [believers] have defeated [the devil] through the blood of the Lamb and the Word of their testimony. For they did not love their lives, [even] to the point of death. (12) Because of this, rejoice, O heavens and those residing in them! [But] woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you, having [great] anger, because he knows that he has [only] a short time [remaining]".
Revelation 12:7-12

Putting this passage together with Job chapters one and two -- and, importantly, noting that nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that Satan has so far previously been expelled from heaven -- we conclude that the devil does still have access to God's throne room on certain occasions and makes maximum use of these opportunities to bring accusations against believers of the sort described in the passage above. To properly understand human history from the divine point of view, one has to realize that humanity is God's answer to Satan's rebellion, not only in terms of demonstrating God's mercy, love and justice in the face of a satanic slander which claimed that God's condemnation of him and his followers was "unjust", but also as the mechanism by which the fallen angels who rejected God are replaced by human beings who have accepted Him in the person and work of Jesus Christ. In this process, God is not only vindicated, but glorified; Satan and his minions are not only refuted but replaced; God's creation is not only restored but becomes more blessed than before through the execution of what was His plan all along: the calling out of a double portion of saved humanity as the Bride (and friends of the Bride) of the One who threw in His lot with us and died in our place, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The five-part Satanic Rebellion series explains all of these things in detail (see the link). Coming soon, I hope to have posted part 4B of the Basics series, Soteriology, wherein the Plan of God is explicated in more particular detail from the standpoint of the Divine Decrees. Part of BB 4B is already available at these links:

Free-Will Faith and the Will of God

Faith: What is it?

Free-Will Faith in the Plan of God.

As to the issue of how it is that God allows the devil to enter into His holy presence, I have written about that before in another place. Please see the following links:

The Devil's Access to the Presence of God.

How is Satan allowed to appear before God (question 2/2)?

Please also see these links on the subject of the Devil's present accusation of us:

Satan's Accusation of Believers (in SR 4)

The Accuser Thrown Down (in CT 4)

I hope this helps with your question. Please feel free to write me back about any of this.

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hi Doc!

I've noticed that there are no references to demon possession in the OT, but many mentioned in the NT. Here are some below:

Matthew 4:23-25: Demon-possessed persons are healed by Jesus (also Luke 6:17-19).

Matthew 7:21-23: Many will drive out demons in Jesus' name (also Mark 16:17; Luke 10:17; Acts 5:16; 8:7).

Matthew 8:14-17: Jesus healed many demon-possessed (also Mark 1:29-39; Luke 4:33-41).

Matthew 8:28-34: Jesus sent a herd of demons from two men into a herd of about two thousand pigs (also Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39, both referring to only one man).

Matthew 9:32-34: Jesus made a demon-possessed and mute man speak, the Pharisees said it was by the power of Beelzebub (also Mark 3:20-22).

Matthew 10:1-8: The Twelve Apostles given the authority to drive out evil spirits (also Mark 3:15; 6:7; 6:13; Luke 9:1; 10:17).

Matthew 11:16-19: "this generation" said that John the Baptist was possessed by a demon (also Luke 7:31-35).

Matthew 12:22-32: Jesus healed a demon-possessed blind and dumb man (also Luke 11:14-23; 12:10; Mark 3:20-30).

Matthew 12:43-45: Jesus told an allegory of nasty spirits coming back home, that is to the human body where they have lived before (also Luke 11:24-26).

Matthew 15:21-28: Jesus expelled a demon from the body of the daughter of a Canaanite woman (also Mark 7:24-30).

Matthew 17:14-21: Jesus healed a lunatic by driving out a demon from him (also Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-49).

Mark 1:21-28: Jesus expelled a nasty spirit from a man (also Luke 4:31-37).

Mark 9:38-40: A non-Christian is seen driving out demons in Jesus' name (also Luke 9:49-50).

Mark 16:9: Jesus had driven seven demons out of Mary Magdalene (also Luke 8:2).

Luke 7:21: Many people are cleansed from evil spirits by Jesus.

Luke 13:10-17: Jesus expelled a spirit of disease from the body of a woman on the Sabbath.

Luke 13:31-32: Jesus continued to cast out demons even though Herod Antipas wanted to kill him.

Luke 22:3: Satan entered into Judas Iscariot (also John 13:27).

John 7:20: A "crowd of Jews" that wanted to kill Jesus said he was demon-possessed.

John 8:48-52: "The Jews" said Jesus was a Samaritan and demon-possessed.

John 10:20-21: Many Jews said Jesus was raving mad and demon-possessed, others said he was not.

Acts 5:3: Satan filled the heart of Ananias.

Acts 5:16: The Apostles healed those tormented by evil spirits.

Acts 8:6-8: At the teaching of Philip the Evangelist in Samaria, evil spirits came out of many.

Acts 8:18-19: Simon Magus offered to buy the power of Laying on of hands.

Acts 10:38: St. Peter said Jesus healed all who were under the power of the devil.

Acts 16:16-24: Paul and Silas were imprisoned for driving a future-telling spirit out of a slave girl.

Acts 19:11-12: Handkerchiefs and aprons touched by Paul cured illness and drove out evil spirits.

Acts 19:13-20: Seven sons of Sceva attempted to drive out evil spirits by saying: "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." But because they did not have faith in Jesus, they were unsuccessful and were actually driven from that house by the possessed.

Revelation 18:2: The Whore of Babylon is a home for demons, evil spirits and unclean birds"

Is there a reason why they are prevalent in NT times? Thanks in advance!

Response #6:   

You certainly have a point that the emphasis on this issue in the New Testament is far greater than in the Old. Consider however, for example, that spiritism is strongly prohibited in the Old Testament, and that such activity necessarily involves demon possession (Lev.20:6, 27; Deut.18:10-11; Is.8:19; cf. 1Sam.28:3-19). So there has always been demon possession outside of Eden (and even in Eden, Satan possessed the serpent); it is just that in the NT there is more mention of it. There are two main reasons for this in my view. The first is that the New Testament unveils many issues which while often present in the Old Testament fell into the category of things which even the prophets themselves did not fully understand and in which they were "serving more you than themselves" (1Pet.1:10-12). The incarnation of the Messiah as God and man is the most important of these, but there are many such things (the whole issue of eschatology and prophetic foreshortening, for example). Jesus' victory on the cross was the lynch-pin in human history, the process wherein God is defeating Satan to demonstrate His veracity and the justice of the sentence already passed against the devil and his followers. It was therefore appropriate for Christ's power over the demons to be made manifest in an obvious way, and that is almost always where we become aware of demon possession: when the demon or demons are thrown out. Since in times past the miraculous gift of exorcism was not commonly given (if at all or ever), the Bible does not have occasion to describe the casting out of demons. This brings me to the second reason. I think that it is very likely that there was indeed much more demon activity concentrated in the area of Palestine in Jesus' day than is usually the case precisely because the First Advent was the pivotal turning point in all of history, human and angelic. Satan certainly understood this (as seen by the fact that after Eden he makes his only appearances in the world during this very time in order to oppose Christ). It stands to reason that the devil mobilized all his available forces in the hopes of opposing Jesus to the maximum possible degree. Consider, for example, the plea of the "legion" Jesus cast out of the Gadarene demoniac to be allowed to stay in the area. This temporary intensification would also certainly also help to account for the large number of instances recorded in the gospels (and also to a lesser extent in the intensification of spiritual warfare in the Church). Please see the following links:

For spiritual warfare in general, including demon possession and influence: Satan's Rebellion part 4: Satan's World System

Spiritual Warfare

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Hello Bob,

Christ the Lord is risen! Halleluiah! Recently my adult son asked me if fallen angels and demons were synonymous. I said I was not sure, but there might be a difference. Fallen angels are all those thrown out of Heaven, and demons had something to do with a different group of angels called watchers. I was not sure what the connection was; I had read this somewhere and didn’t give it much thought. Is there any truth to this?

Now that we’re on the subject of demons, which I do believe exist, are they still able to possess our bodies in this Church-age? Also, my son asked me about UFOs – I quickly said that although I have never seen any, I do believe they exist but doubt that they are from extraterrestrial worlds as most would like to think. I also believe that UFOs are visible, but intangible objects, and part of an agenda that the demons are cooking-up for us. There are many phenomena that occur or exist in our environment that science is unable Explain. Who’s to say that the work of demons does not cause some of these? To what extent does our Comforter/Restrainer protect us from demons or their effects?

Regards,

Response #7:  

Angelology is one of those areas of doctrine which, while the scripture says quite a lot, it doesn't necessarily tell us everything we should like to know. My conclusion from scripture is that all of Satan's followers are angels in a way analogous to all unbelievers being human beings. But just as we feel the need for a word to distinguish the unfaithful from the faithful on earth, so in the case of fallen angels the term "demon" is most helpful in making clear that these are not elect but fallen angels. For the term "fallen angel" per se does not occur in scripture. The followers of Satan are called "angels" (in association with him), as well as evil spirits (Lk.7:21; Acts 19:13), unclean spirits (Matt.10:1; Mk.1:27), devils (Jn.6:70), and "lordships", a term employed for them at Colossians 1:16 and elsewhere (cf. Rev.17:14; 19:16), because they exercise angelic, or "lordly" power (cf. Hebrew `el or "mighty one" in Ps.8:5; 82:1 & 6; 138:1; Jn.10:34-35). Therefore from the use of the word "demon" in the New Testament, it seems to me to be merely a generic term for we what also in English call "fallen angels". The daimon in Greek in Classical times meant an un-designated minor deity, so that it is an apt translation for 'el, "lord" or "god" with a small "l" and "g" respectively. For much more on all of this please see part 2A of Bible Basics: "Angelologogy". See also the link: "Is there any difference between demons and fallen angels?".

On the other set of questions, I entirely agree with you: to the extent that unexplained phenomena really do not arise from otherwise explainable material causes, demons would be the cause to which I would be inclined to attribute such events. As believers, scripture gives us every indication that we can never be possessed by a demon (please see the link: "Demon Possession" in SR #4) -- we are "temples of the Holy Spirit", indwelt and sealed by the Spirit, so that contemporaneous occupancy by demons would seem prima facie to be an impossibility. Moreover, demon possession is not an accidental state. To be possessed, my conclusion based upon scripture is that a person has first to surrender their will, a feat most often accomplished in conjunction with pagan religious rites (but not necessarily so). In any case, this means that a person not only probably cannot truly be a Christian to engage in this process of opening up to satanic influences to such a great degree, but also has to be pretty far down the road towards moral degeneracy even in secular terms. This life is entirely about our free will choices made from faith (or lack thereof), and to allow demons to take over a person's will in whole or in part (the real point of demon possession) against their will is contrary to the whole tone and tenor of scripture and to the whole revealed will of God in His plan -- we are here to choose for Christ and to follow Christ, and He is not going to allow any demon to interfere with that process in such an absolute way. The Gadarene demoniac, it should be noted, was able to exert enough free will in faith even after being possessed by a legion of demons to come to Christ and to fall down at His feet in a gesture of faith, even if he was not able to control his own voice until after Jesus had commanded the demons out. However, even though we believers are exempt from demon possession, that does not mean that we will ever be free from demon attack -- far from it. Paul, we recall, was tormented by a "thorn in the flesh" which the Lord allowed to remain for that great apostle's spiritual growth (2Cor.12:7), and it is also certainly true that Satan makes great use of the "indirect approach", gaining much more most of the time through influence than through direct action. On all this please see the links also in SR #4, "Demon Attack", and "Demon Influence".

In all these things, we need not even be concerned. Just as God protects us from seen threats, so in the case of the invisible warfare swirling about our heads, He is ever with us, so that we can say of the demons precisely what we say about trouble which comes from our fellow human beings: "The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?" (Ps.27:1 NIV; cf. Ps.23:4, etc.).

In our dear Lord Jesus and the comfort and protection of His Holy Spirit,

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Hi Bob,

I searched around the "Translations" part of the site, but there was none for the verse Matt. 8:29.

And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

Here it seems that even the demons know about the future Tribulation when they state, "before THE time". Most translations use "the time", while the NIV uses "appointed time". Are they acknowledging the end and their doom into the Lake of Fire?

Thanks! I am delving into the latest posting with much study.

In Christ,

Response #8: 

This is an excellent observation, and one that has consistently escaped my notice. It certainly deserves to be pointed out several places on the site. I will have a look at the latest posting, CT 6, and see where best to fold it in (link: http://ichthys.com/Tribulation-Part6.htm#_edn86).

Thank you so much!

In Jesus' Name,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Dear Dr luginbill

Sir, its been only a short time since i have become a believer, i have never taken part in a communion. i dont know any christian here and there is no church in this city (which is in India). can i do the communion alone? do i need only bread and wine for that?

thank you and god bless you

Response #9:   

Dear Friend,

Very good to make your acquaintance! You most certainly may take communion alone, with whatever it is you have to eat or drink in remembrance of our Lord. Please see the following links for more information:

The Communion Ceremony outside of the local church.

Church: The Biblical Ideal versus the Contemporary Reality.

The Meaning of the Communion Memorial (in BB 4A)

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #10: 

dear doctor luginbill

Hello sir, i wanted to ask how much help does a pagan gets from god? i am 31 years old, i accepted Christ 5 months ago. just 5 months ago i came to know that Christ died for my sins and the sins of the world, and that Trinity is the only God. i was a hindu before that. sir is there more satanic activity in the places where there is more idol worship? i had a lot of problems with the evil spirits earlier. but now i know that Christ is with me and I am ready for any opposition i get from satan.

sir your ministry is helping me so much. just 15 days after i stared reading the bible god led me to your ministry and since that day I am reading from your website day and night. I am thankful to god to give me a teacher like you. i pray daily for u

thank you and god bless you

Response #10:  

First let me say that I am very humbled by your comments, and will strive to be worthy of them.

As to your question, I am overjoyed to hear that you are receiving abundant help from our Lord Jesus through His Spirit in spite of your very difficult and challenging circumstances. I doubt that many of my countrymen (including myself) can truly appreciate what it takes to persevere in Christian faith in the face of so much opposition, human and satanic.

I believe that you are absolutely correct that wherever one finds anti-God, demonic practices and behavior (which are not limited to idolatry but are certainly always closely associate with it), one also finds increased levels of satanic activity. As a believer in Jesus, your body is now a temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor.3:16), and no demon nor any combination of demons is a match for the Spirit of God.

Most of what I have written about these issues is to be found in part 4 of the Satanic Rebellion series, "Satan's World System", and particularly part V wherein demon influence and attack are covered. I would not be at all surprised to learn that your particular circumstances and geography are making things more difficult for you. If there is a "silver lining" in that, it is that severe testing amplifies and accelerates spiritual growth -- for which the eternal rewards are not to be compared with present trials (Rom.8:18). Still, I am very sensitive to your difficulties. Please know that I will now be praying for you, for your continued spiritual victories in Jesus Christ our Lord.

I praise God that you are now my brother in Jesus Christ! No matter what happened in the past, we are now all one and all equal members of the Body of Jesus, His Church.

In Him in whom we have eternal life and all the blessings of eternity, the One who is the Way and the only Way to life eternal, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #11: 

dear Dr luginbill

thank you so much sir,i do need your prayers. you are right about the demonic practices sir. they have increased so much. there were people who openly threatened and challenged me and my parents in the past that they will ruin us, and they succeeded {sir I am not obsessed with satan} these are my personal experiences. the mere sight of food was enough to make me sick. for one year i hardly ate. people offered help, but i latter realised even they were taking help of the evil one. my condition got worse, i got hospitalisd. this is where God sent me help, i told my story to a nurse and she gave me a copy of a new testament. although it was difficult for me to read it initially (for obvious reasons}. i believed the gospel. i realised that all my life i was following the wrong religion. i was worshiping God without knowledge. Jesus Christ is the only way.

thank you and God bless you

Response #11: 

Thank you so much for your emails. Please feel free to write me any time. I promise to keep you on my prayer list -- and I hope all of those reading these words will do the same. You have a wonderful testimony: it demonstrates that anyone and everyone who truly desires to know about the one and only way to salvation, faith in the Person and the saving work of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, will be led to the truth.

Please continue to persevere no matter what. Our faith in the Lord and our work and suffering for Him are most assuredly not in vain: there are laid up for us in heaven treasures beyond anything now imaginable, for all who believe in Him and understand that He is "working everything for the good for those who love Him" (Rom.8:28).

Please feel free to write any time.

In the dear Lord we love, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Your brother,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hello--Sorry to bother you again, but I have a question about the word "Theotetos" used by Paul, in Col. 2:9--"all the fullness of Godhood/Deity/Godhead dwells in Him in bodily form."

Now, a Messianic who denies Jesus' deity says that this word "theotetos" always meant "The fullness of that which is G-d is how the word theotetos has always been understood until the English word "G-dhead" was created, which added theology to a word that didn't need theology added to it."

Now, he also said that the word "Godhead" wasn't invented until the 17th century, and it was inserted as the false meaning of this word. I know that's not true, that it is a false meaning; I told him NO English word existed 2000 years ago, so his point was disingenuous.

Now, Godhead/Godhood mean "the state of being God." ALL the fulness of the state of being God is what exists in Jesus in bodily form. I also took his definition and said that if it means that all the fullness of that which is God is in Jesus, which would make Jesus, God. He'll deny it, of course. He told me that it means that He has the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Oh, and he disavows John 1:1. He thinks it means that the Word was God's--notice the genitive. OF God or FROM God. I told him that is NOT what John wrote; that the sentence is NOT genitive. I said if it was, John would have written, "And of God was the Word." But he did NOT. He wrote, "And God was the Word." Big difference.

I forgot something. You know how John 1:18 says that "no one has seen God at any time; the only-begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him."? Well, our interlinear of the NASB and NIV says, of this verse, that later manuscripts have "only-begotten Son." That would mean earlier manuscripts have "only-begotten God." Now, do the oldest and best manuscripts--and I thought the NASB was based on those, the Neslte-Aland GNT--have "God"? Or do they have "Son"? I mean, both would be correct, but this Messianic says that the earliest manuscripts have "Son." Thanks.

Response #12:   

Good to hear from you -- no bother. To take this last bit first, "the one and only God" is what the best and earliest manuscripts all read (Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Ephraemi rescriptus, and the Bodmer papyrus -- a better set of witnesses agreeing on a text you'll never find). I checked the NIV and NASB and find both reading "God" here (although they differ on how they want to translate mongenes). Since the word monogenes is elsewhere generally used with the word "son", it is not too difficult to see how some scribes over the millennia might have gotten confused by this reading and changed it (consciously or unconsciously) to "Son" from "God", but "God" is clearly what Paul wrote. Also, you are certainly quite right about John 1:1 (a predicate nominative equating the two is what we have; and I believe we've corresponded about that before).

On Godhead, I quite agree that there is nothing to be gained in arguing about the words which, in English and Greek both, are crystal clear as to their etymology, meaning, and even their usage in context. The Greek word theotes (gen. theotetos), the -tet- suffix is a common abstract denoting quality; English equivalents are -ness, -ship, -hood. So just as friend-ship means having to do with the quality of a friend (cf. Greek philo-tes = friendship), so God-ship, God-ness, God-hood/head would mean having to with the quality of God. Our specific choice of English word as you point out is a historical matter and not a semantic one. Beyond that, I am not sure that I understand what you correspondent's beef is. For theotes clearly means "having the quality of God", and if Jesus has the entire fullness of that quality, well, the meaning seems evident. If I read your e-mail correctly, it seems that your correspondent wants this to have to do with the Holy Spirit instead. In the first place, the Spirit is not mentioned here. In the second place, we all have the Spirit indwelling us, so that this statement, if that were what it meant, would not be adding very much in a context which is clearly designed to fill us with awe about who our Savior is: "the head over every rule and authority". And it is "in Him you are fulfilled". Since our fulfillment is in Jesus, and since we all have the Spirit, understanding verse nine as restricted to the Spirit is not only unnatural and illogical, but it also would have the effect of making no distinction between us and Jesus in opposition to everything Paul goes on to say in verses 10-15 to demonstrate His superiority.

Quite to the contrary, by using the phrase "the fullness of God-ness" in this respect, Paul has deliberately depersonalized the qualities of God to show that they are what "dwell" in Jesus, and not only the Holy Spirit. That is, Paul's clear purpose from a grammatical point of view is precisely the opposite of what is being claimed, namely, to show that Jesus is God because He possesses all the qualities, characteristics, "essence" of God, to the full -- only He is also a human being. The term pleroma or "fullness" was a Gnostic "buzz word" used to describe the magic mo-jo they preached as attainable by resorting to their secret "wisdom" and cultic worship. During Paul's day, there was very little distance between many of his Jewish opponents who were hyper-legalistic (as in the case of the Pharisees) and those who were mystics (Gnosticism grew out of their teachings and fantasies, angel worship morphing into aeon worship). The use of the term theotes (theotetos in the gen.) is thus crucial because by defining his terms as "the pleroma of God", Paul not only divorces the word from Gnostic allusions, but also promotes it to mean in this compound phrase "divine essence". Jesus is thus neither a created being, human or aeon or angel, nor some sort of phantom, but is both genuine God in all His fullness, and "in bodily form" at the same time. Note also that it is only in Him, the genuine Savior appreciated both for who He is -- God and man -- and what He has done on the cross that we believers are "fulfilled" or, in the Greek, "pleroma-ed" (v.10). Finally, the use of the adverb somatikos prevents us from taking verse nine any other way. For saying "in bodily fashion" is quite different from saying "in His body"; the latter would indicate a mere location; the former does indicate the manner: God and man in One Person forever.

Hope this helps,

In our dear Lord and Savior.

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Colosians 2:18: On reading the verse again, it looks like Paul is also reinforcing his emphasis on revalation against using our fleshy minds to work out things we don't understand. So, my comment should now read:

I would just like to add a comment as I stumbled on this discussion during a search in google. The Received text has the word "not", which is missing from the NU text. I suspect this is because the NU is based on the gnostic manuscripts from Alexandria, the centre of gnostism, and was origionally edited by two gnostics. From my scant knowledge of the subject, the gnostics started to mix Greek philophy with the Christian faith and did not accept dreams and visions - hence the omission of "not" in Collosians 2:18. Surely the whole point of Paul's argument is that people who did not see visions of angles were talking about things they did not understand and were therefore erring towards the worship of angles, led by the arrogance of their minds instead of relying on revelation. Those who have genuinely seen angles would know not to make this mistake and, where they have started to worship angles while experiencing the vision, the angles themselves have corrected them. Just a thought.

God bless,

Response #13:  

Good to make your acquaintance. In my opinion, there is little doubt that μή is a later addition in part of the tradition and that the text and translation of most versions and additions is correct (including that of the Nestle-Aland version). The best and oldest of the manuscripts do not have μή (with the exception of Ephraemi rescriptus, and since that manuscript was recovered from a palimpsest, it may be hard to tell whether a small word like this was original or squeezed in later; I have not been able to autopsy the manuscript, but here is a link to a photo of one of the leaves on-line and you'll see what I mean: Codex C). One of the earliest and best of the papyri witnesses (Chester Beatty / 200 A.D.) has no μή. It is true that some much later Byzantine manuscripts of the type that were used to produce the TR do have μή, and also true that the best manuscripts which are sometimes called "Alexandrian" do not have μή, but the picture is not quite that simple. First of all, the two or three family theory of the textual tradition is difficult to uphold even if one generalizes to the point where we reach a distinction without a difference, and this passage is a good example. For we find here so-called Alexandrian witnesses and so called Byzantine texts in both camps.

Sinaiticus really rates its own category. It is often called "Alexandrian", but the best scholarly opinion has successfully knocked down all attempts to establish an Egyptian provenance. The best thinking on this in my view is that it hails from Palestine, most likely Caesarea, but that too is a bit of guess work. What is not guess work is that "Aleph" is by far the oldest (third to fourth century) and best of the manuscripts. Years of working with this manuscript have repeatedly brought me to this conclusion. The μή is present in Aleph only by the hand of a much later corrector.

As to the gnostic theory, we know very little for certain about the gnostics, and it would be news to me that we could say with any degree of certainty that they had any influence whatsoever on the early manuscript tradition. I see no evidence to support such a theory anywhere, and certainly not from the text of the New Testament as this example you cite shows. The Bible is a supernatural book in every way. It is replete with miracles and spiritual phenomena of all sorts, shapes and sizes, including dreams, visions and prophecies of course. And while I see no evidence whatsoever for any systematic expurgation of such spiritual material in the Bible, it would be powerfully strange if this passage virtually alone were to have attracted such attention, assuming such people with such power ever existed in the first place. Positing a simple mistake would be more believable (on which see below), if the strong manuscript and papyri evidence were not against the view altogether.

Finally, I don't think I can accept the logic. First of all, Paul is clearly assailing gnostic activity here. This passage is one of our few bits of evidence about what incipient gnosticism looked like. Were I a proponent of gnosticism, deleting the word μή would not seem to help my case. I would be much more likely to delete the entire passage. Secondly, in the first part of verse eighteen we are told that the people who are "brow-beating" the Colossians are doing so by means of "false humility" and "by means of the worship of angels". The word "angel", in addition to meaning the spiritual creature, sometimes, and I would argue also in this context, means not only the heavenly creature but the appearance of that creature (cf. Acts 7:30; 7:53; Gal.3:19 where the "angels" are the appearances of the Angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Christ), to include also the information they communicate. What these false teachers are alleging is that they have had special supernatural communication which trumps whatever Paul or anyone else might say. It is a scriptural common place of the false prophet to say "I had a dream!" (Jer.23:25). And that is what the context with the participle ἐμβατεύων implies: i.e., the false prophet is supporting his authority on the basis of what he claims to have seen but really hasn't. Paul doesn't bother to add the "but of course he really hasn't" part because that is so obvious from the context as to be pleonastic.

So here it is also easy to see how μή came to be added to some of the manuscripts. A scribe thinking about the passage might scratch his head and say "well, this false teacher really didn't see any visions/angels, so this relative clause should be negative". The meaning is essentially the same in both cases in one respect: with or without μή the false teacher did not really see any visions. The advantage of the actual text which omits μή is that it makes clear that while he really didn't see a vision, he does claim to have done so (a possibility which μή knocks out). That is a very important point we ought to want to preserve. For there are more than enough wolves out there who falsely claim exactly this sort of thing today, and many more to come as we draw ever closer to the end.

See the links:

Visions of Angels

Reviling Angelic Beings

Combating Gnosticism

Gnosticism

In the Name of the One who has given us His Word of Truth, the Word of Truth Himself, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

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